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Railways in TV Drama - wasn't ABC Murders BBC really poor?

Discussion in 'Memorabilia, Media & Publications' started by John Luxton, 28 Dec 2018.

  1. John Luxton

    John Luxton Member

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    By now I was expecting to see some comment about the BBC drama ABC Murders. Given that Railways were a significant part of the plot I thought that some of the errors were unforgivable and showed that the production team had very little idea about Railways in the 1930s. I thought I was seeing things when I saw what looked like a GWR Swindon Castle pulling a tender with LNER on the side! The ticket inspector with bus/tram conductor ticket machine! Also would railway staff have been allowed to wear political badges?

    Given that a certain amount of computer graphics appear to have been used one would have thought they could have made much greater effort.

    Now I know dramas have to compromise on stock and Mark 1 carriages often appear in period drama set prior to 1950s but I just thought Mammoth Screen were being deliberately awful. Surprising really when the same company who appears to produce Endeavour (Morse) go to some effort to used correct period vehicles in this drama.

    Altogether a very disappointing portrayal of Railways in the 1930s.
     
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  3. Bedpan

    Bedpan Member

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    I've only seen the first episode so far, but it strikes me that it is has been necessary to make compromises due to budget. The steps with the poster board headed "Andover Town Centre" and the police blue light with "Andover Police Station" rather than just "Police" made me smile wryly. I don't think that we can expect locations, rolling stock etc to be too authentic. Two thinks that do get on my goat though, not just ABC Murders but all period dramas are 1) The fact that no men take their hts off when indoors. I was always brought off to take mine (it would have ben a school cap) off and my Dad took his hat off too, but in ABC Murders and also some scenes from Mrs Wilson practically every man walking around indoors with a coat on was also wearing a hat.

    Secondly, and again they all seem to do it, is dubbing the sound of an train onto a shot. For instance, on the way to Andover they showed the train racing through the countryside (obviously a speeded up shot of a train on the NYMR near Fylingdales, but the soundtrack was of a train travelling at no more than 10 mph so you could hear individual puffs of exhaust. Same with whistles (not ABC Murders, but generally) TV producers seem to have the magical ability to make a whistle sound without any steam being released from it. Re ABC Murders thaough, I am sure I heard a diesel horn sounding as the train was going along.

    I don't think that anybody could justifyably complain about the NYMR being used, any more that complain that Bexhill Station wasn't really Bexhill Station, but re the inappropriate sound tracks, they wouldn't superimpose the sound of a bus driving along at 30mph onto a shot of a sports car doung 70, would they.
     
    Last edited: 29 Dec 2018
  4. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Being a bit of a fan of the David Suchet series, I caught the first episode and was more concerned at Inspector Japp being killed off to manipulate the plot away from Agatha Christie's original.

    In terms of the railway, I don't think they did too badly at all, although it would have been nice to see Andover station labelled as "town" or "Junction" (in all likelihood "Junction", given he was travelling from London) for authenticity.

    I noticed that for Bexhill, the scene showed Poirot leaving a rather grandiose station building which could easily have been a terminal. They could have shot an identical scene of Poirot walking out of the old Bexhill West station building if they'd wanted to be extra authentic, however I'm not going to get all nerdy about it.

    One thing I've noticed about the David Suchet series is a heavy use of Hull Paragon deputising for various locations. In one episode it stood in for Paddington, Exeter St Davids and Plymouth. It doesn't detract from my enjoyment - it's fun guessing what location is where !
     
  5. Merthyr Imp

    Merthyr Imp Member

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    Well, the railway scenes in part three were fun! CGI like something out of a video game - surely it couldn't be taken seriously even by viewers who haven't the slightest interest in railways. At least the scenes in an apparently abandoned tube station were shown to be a dream - maybe the whole series was meant to be a dream.
     
  6. The_Train

    The_Train Established Member

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    As someone who has read the books and enjoyed the David Suchet versions, I have to say that this was very poor. The storyline was pretty bizarre, the characters seemed too random (no Hastings???) and the CGI in the final episode was terrible. I think Jaws was more believable than those trains whizzing by at high speed in quick succession
     
  7. Ploughman

    Ploughman Established Member

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  8. Spartacus

    Spartacus Member

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    The thing with carriages is that now, perhaps more than ever, there are plenty of Big Four era carriages in service on preserved lines, so it’s annoying that seemingly anything set in the 20th Century can suffer from Mk1 syndrome, even up to things set in the present day. Things being in the wrong place you can make excuses for, through coaches, loco exchanges, joint lines etc, heck a Grange made it all the way to Huddersfield in 1964, but a GWR loco in LNER livery to Andover with time travelling carriages is pushing things far too far, like Woolston Grange‘s foreign jaunt, it’s actually damaging.
     
  9. Ploughman

    Ploughman Established Member

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    Does the average member of the public that watches the programme actually know or care?
    Does it matter that much?
    Were the Electric Signals correct for the period? No one has mentioned that yet.
     
  10. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    I haven't seen the last episode, but I agree that CGI can be more annoying than the wrong type of loco etc.

    Mk1's are quite good because compared to modern stock, to the untrained eye they are actually quite similar in appearance to a lot of big 4 stock (Thinking of OS Bullied's SR mainline stock as an example).
     
  11. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    TBH, as someone who'd describe himself as a rail enthusiast, I wasn't too upset about any of the trains in the programmes - some details like the points being switched at the last second for a train travelling at high speed seemed "suspect" but I wasn't expecting the BBC to replicate a 1930s Doncaster for the sake of one scene (however fun that might have been).

    Railway staff are allowed to wear Union badges.

    Unions are political.

    I thought it was more interesting than a normal Point - Poirot adaptations can be quite boring because the Detective's "Little Grey cells" mean he can solve things that the viewer couldn't - a lot of Sherlock Holmes adaptations suffer from this too.

    Instead, we got a more fragile Poirot - as you might expect of a Belgian immigrant living in the UK at a time when anti-immigrant sentiment was pretty mainstream. Whilst Agatha Christie stories are well known for "locked rooms", it's nice to see one of her stories adapted to be of it's time, rather than a hermetically sealed bubble - some adaptations ignore this aspect of things.

    Given the badges/posters prominently displayed early on, I expected more to be made of that storyline but it seemed to be more "background" (other than a train ticket being dropped, shock horror!). It was enough to unsettle the right wing snowflakes with heir predictable responses of "political correctness" etc, so I guess some good came of it.
     
  12. contrex

    contrex Member

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    Didn't the station entrance at "Bexhill" have "BEX HILL" above it? In white letters on a red background? Very Southern! Having said that, I felt that the CGI railway stuff was so obviously CGI that it was maybe a nod to the viewer ("yes, this is a fantasy of the 1930s"). Some of the dialogue was very out-of-time - "ducks in a row", "higher up the food chain", "sack of sh*t", etc. I believe Amazon Prime was involved money-wise, so I expect there was strong pressure to make it US-friendly (and/or Millennial-friendly in the UK). What always bugs me in that type of drama is when UK non-uniform coppers are addressed as just "Detective". What's that about?
     
    Last edited: 30 Dec 2018
  13. SCH117X

    SCH117X Member

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  14. contrex

    contrex Member

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    I'm old enough to remember Eddie Shoestring descending from a 4-VEP at "Bristol Temple Meads". I needed counselling for six months. Sometimes I wake up screaming even now.
     
  15. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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  16. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    If only they'd used a 205. I believe they made it there on occasion !
     
  17. contrex

    contrex Member

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    205s were used on Portsmouth-Bristols in the 1970s. I believe there were often complaints of overcrowding.
     
  18. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    They were handy units, but if the route usually justified a rake of mk1's, they'd struggle.
     
  19. contrex

    contrex Member

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    205s came on that route in May 1973. The year before I went to/from Portsmouth Harbour both ways in rakes of mixed maroon and blue/grey mk 1s, hauled by Hymeks. Portsmouth-West Worthing in blue 4-CORs. Happy days.
     
  20. PeterC

    PeterC Established Member

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    Indeed, as Spike Milligan noted in one of his poems it is only American detectives who "never remove their hats, when investigating murders in other people's flats".
     
  21. John Luxton

    John Luxton Member

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    For what it is worth I watched the ITV adaptation of ABC Murders on ITV Hub the other evening. Well there were some inaccuracies in that too and a bit of GWR / LNER confusion too, with SNCF thrown in for good measure - the mistakes though were subtler and over much more quickly.

    Arriving at "Paddington" when heading for Churston they pass the familiar "Speed To The West" GWR poster, however they board a Pullman Car, something which wasn't really a feature of GWR operations and the wheels of the departing locomotive the only bit that was seen had a distinctly LNER flavour about the driving wheels (was it Flying Scotsman?). A train is then seen at speed and it looked rather like something from SNCF with Wagon Lits cars!

    Later a GWR Pannier is seen.

    So perhaps ones memories of the past of over a quarter of a century ago are not as accurate as one would like to think!

    John
     
  22. Davina Angel

    Davina Angel New Member

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    I was confused to see 1972 tube stock operating in 1933 - and without a guard! Who knew they had OPO back then?
    And it was very confusing to see the red aspect above the green on the colour light signals. Perhaps they should have consulted someone? Or maybe it doesn't really matter.
     
  23. NoMorePacers

    NoMorePacers Member

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    They probably used that set knocking about at the abandoned Aldwych station, considering it probably looks old, and is likely easily accessible for filming.
     
  24. Bedpan

    Bedpan Member

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    I can understand that the average non-enthusiast viewer might not question the fact that the red signal was above the green, or the shape of the signals in general, but I wonder if any of them gave any thought to what might have happened if the signals had remained red instead of turning green a mere two seconds of so before the trains sped past them.
     
  25. STEVIEBOY1

    STEVIEBOY1 Established Member

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    I watched "Father Brown" A few days ago on BBC1 and there seemed to be a few oddities there, the stock was GWR, a Pullman coach was mentioned, but is seemed to be one of those directors saloons infact, also the routing which I presume was from London, mentioned, Amersham, Wheatbury?, Oxford, ??
     
    Last edited: 12 Jan 2019 at 06:27
  26. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Had the chance to compare with the ITV version the other night. Was pleased to see that the name "Andover Junction" was used for historical accuracy.
     
  27. PeterC

    PeterC Established Member

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    I missed that one although SWMBO has commented unfavourably several times about hair styles, make up and clothing assigning the show to no particular period in the 20th century so I wouldn't hold out for greater "accuracy" on railways. Wheatley ( not Wheatbury) and Oxford would be on the branch from Princes Risborough but that wouldn't take you through Amersham and wouldn't be a through journey from London.
     
  28. STEVIEBOY1

    STEVIEBOY1 Established Member

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    Thanks for that, yes, I don't think they were being too accurate! :)
     

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